ART SEARCH: Children invited to “clue” into art at JCA

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2016


Ginny Hamm of Troy visited the Johnson Center for the Arts with her granddaughters, Molly Kate and Abby Jordan. They spent the afternoon on an art search. They were intrigued by the artwork of former Trojan and artist, Nancy Murphree Davis. Davis’ artwork included a collection of seashells near her home in West Palm Beach. The girls identified the the shells on their art search card.

About 20 years ago, kids began the search for Waldo, a character hidden in groups in a series of children’s books.

Today, children of the children of the Waldo era and all the children that followed, are challenged to search not for Waldo, but for images in the artwork exhibited at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

The Johnson Center docents have created an Art Search for children and their parents or grandparents who visit the center together.

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Judy Dye, president of the JCA docent group, said the purpose of the Art Search is to encourage families to visit the cultural art center together and to expose children to the wonders of art and introduce them to those who create it.

Dye said sets of cards for each exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts are prepared for preschool children and for school age children.

“Cards contain clues to help the children locate particular works in the exhibit,” Dye said. “Art Search cards are available for each new exhibit. The Art Search encourages children to look closely at the artwork in a playful kind of way.”

The artwork of Nancy Murphree Davis is on exhibit now and preschool children are asked to find, maybe, a tiger lying in the grass while school age children are given clues to solve the search.

Most of Davis’ watercolors are of the sea and seashore and, during the search, children learn to identify different creatures of the sea. The Art Search is as educational as it is fun, Dye said.

“We hope parents and grandparents will take the different opportunities to spend time with their children after-school and on Saturdays at the Johnson Center for the Arts.”

Vicki Pritchett, JCA executive director, said the art center’s docents provide an excellent service to the center as guides for the different exhibits and as promoters of the arts.

“The Art Search is a great way to let parents know that the Johnson Center for the Arts is here for them and their families,” Pritchett said. “We want children to come to the cultural art center. We want them to be exposed to the many different kinds of visual arts and also to all the arts – music, theater and dance – because the arts are forms of enjoyment but they are also essential to learning.

“The latest studies show that 92 percent of the highest scoring children in the new ACT Plan have daily access to the arts, but, on the other end, it shows that 89 percent of the lowest scoring students have little to no access to the arts,” Pritchett said. “Those numbers alone highlight the importance of the arts in education.”

Pritchett said the Alabama study of the ACT Plan found that exposure to and involvement in the arts helps children learn.

“They are better problem solvers; they are better able to develop ideas and they tend to be more creative,” she said. “Creativity is the key component to problem solving.”

Pritchett said she joins Dye and the JCA’s docents in encouraging parents and grandparents to make the cultural arts center a place they visit often with their children and grandchildren.

“You don’t have to know about art to enjoy the Art Search,” Pritchett said. “But, you learn to appreciate art just by experiencing it. And, we have outstanding exhibits by local, state, national and international artists.

“The Art Searches are designed to take families on a scavenger-type tour of the exhibits. The searches are fun and educational and they are memorable experiences for the children and the adults.”

Ginny Hamm participated in an Art Search with her granddaughters Molly Kate and Abby Lynn Jordan and said it was a fun way to experience art.

“My granddaughters had fun filling out their cards and, what I found interesting was that, in looking for one thing in a painting, they found other things and pointed them out,” Hamm said. “They looked more closely at the other paintings and had a very good time exploring art.”

Caleb Dawson brought his children, David and Josephine, to the JCA to participate in Art Search.

Pictured at the bottom, Caleb Dawson and his children Josephine and David not only used the clues to find items in the painting, they also challenged each other with clues.

Pictured at the bottom, Caleb Dawson and his children Josephine and David not only used the clues to find items in the painting, they also challenged each other with clues.

“We all had a great time,” Dawson said. “The Art Search is a creative way to interest children in art and to experience an art gallery. It will be an incentive look closer at artwork, not just at a gallery but wherever it is seen.”

Taking children to an art gallery is a unique experience and one that will broaden their horizons and strengthen the bonds between generations, Hamm said.

The Johnson Center for the Arts is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is always free and everyone is welcome.